Planning for the Holidays: 12 Sales Strategies
It's never to early to plan your holiday sales strategy. Here are a dozen tips to help you get started so that you're ready when the fall rolls around.
Don’t Make Your Shoppers Guess What’s in the Box
Let your shoppers know exactly what they’re getting. Write clear descriptions. Have a streamlined checkout and clear shipping and return policies. Be specific about when you ship; state, for example, “We ship your item within 24 hours.”
Don't Make Them Ask Twice
Respond quickly to customer questions. It’ll help you close a sale faster and increase conversion, since shoppers who get their questions answered quickly are more likely to purchase. During the holidays, customers often want to get their shopping done as fast as possible. If you wait too long, you might lose the sale. Buyers may also be testing your response time as an indicator of what it would be like to do business with you. You can save time by creating a library of simple email replies for your most common answers and creating a page of frequently asked questions. If you need help, Hosted Support’s ezSupport is a customer-support tool that automates FAQ pages.
Make it Easy to Give Back
A good return policy, money-back guarantee, or warranty service can make buyers feel more confident, especially when they’re purchasing a gift for someone else. eBay Consumer Research has found that 21% of nonbuyers cite “lack of return policy” as the reason they buy elsewhere.” That same research shows that even with a liberal policy, actual returns are usually few.
Become the One-Stop Shop
Turn your web storefront into a one-stop shopping destination. Hold a sale and drive multiple purchases by cross-promoting. Create gift baskets of complementary products and create a category for them. Make gift buying easy by offering Wish Lists and e-Gift Cards. Make sure they're clearly displayed on your home page. Offer gift wrapping.
Promote your gift cards more than ever. And allow for later shipping deadlines on those items. Gift cards are a last-minute shopper’s saving grace. It’s quick and easy, and if they can still buy one on December 23 for a Christmas Eve arrival, it may be their last chance and an extra sale for you.
Extend your returns window. Consider accepting returns until at least the end of January so that gift recipients can return gifts easily. For instance, if your window is usually two weeks, you may want to give customers a few more weeks to account for the holidays.
Offer a deep last-minute discount. Holiday shoppers don’t expect to find deals, specials, or discounts during the holidays. If you offer one, it’s sure to attract last-minute shoppers eager to buy, and they’ll remember you for next year. Offer a percent of discount, create a two-for-one promotion, or give a special gift with purchase. It will also help you move holiday inventory.
Cross-sell and up-sell. When people look for gifts, they often find items that are not quite right. Make it easy for them by showing them similar products, complementary items or a more premium model. It may just give them the push they need to buy that perfect gift.
Offer a free gift with purchase. Consider this old retail trick that brick and mortar stores often use during the holidays. Online shoppers usually have three or four storefronts open on their desktop, so a free gift might encourage them to choose your store if they’ll get a bit more for their money. You may even be able to incorporate this at little or no cost, especially if your vendors are used to doing holiday promotions and agree to supply the free merchandise.
Be Available Everywhere
Have a mobile store, as well as a shop on Facebook. Mobile shopping is increasingly on the rise--CNBC.com recently reported that 27% of 18- to 34-year-olds have purchased something on their smartphones. And according to a recent analysis by Booz and Company, sales of physical goods through online social networks will grow by 93 percent per year in the U.S., reaching $14 billion by 2015. ShopTab and DudaMobile can help you quickly set up Facebook and mobile stores, respectively.
Be a holiday hero. A favor done for a panicking holiday shopper could bring you a customer for life. As those shipping deadlines loom and inventory decreases, ask customers who call with unusual requests how you can help them solve their gift-giving problems. If you go the extra mile, shoppers will remember that holiday spirit.
Have a backup plan. Holiday sales are still at their height, and things can go wrong – a snowstorm disrupts your shipping schedule, an employee calls in sick, or you run out of inventory. Troubleshoot those possibilities before they happen so that you have a game plan to keep up with your shoppers.